On Saturday, Illinois newspaper, the Belleville News-Democrat. published the unhinged ravings of one of the perpetual haters of sanity regarding President Obama’s yet-unfulfilled mass gun-grab. Sure, he’s gone seven years without taking guns away from Americans — even the Stupid Part of America — but Steve Kassa Jr. of Edwardsville is certain that any day could be the day, and he wrote to share his mindbogglingly-stupid thoughts with everyone.
“Obama was up to his lying and deceiving propaganda again trying to drum up support like Hitler installing to take your guns away,” Kassa writes. “He’s had his prostitute in the media, Katie Couric, doing gun propaganda all week on satellite.” In fact, he says that the President “even used the Sandy Hook conspiracy” (that’s right — he thinks Sandy Hook was fake) to emphasize his point that it’s probably not a good idea to allow unhinged people to buy and own guns without some form of safeguard in place.
In fact, he says that the President “even used the Sandy Hook conspiracy” (that’s right — he thinks Sandy Hook was fake) to emphasize his point that it’s probably not a good idea to allow unhinged people to buy and own guns without some form of safeguard in place.
“After this last big breaking of the law and getting in America’s face with this transgender thing, if you can’t see America where this guy is wanting you disarmed, you better watch some of the rise and fall of the third Reich on AHC or the American History Channel,” he continues, segueing into the inevitable ill-informed Hitler comparison:
These people have a very evil, demonic agenda and soon as they get the guns, if they can, you will see worse than what happened in Germany in World War II here in the United States.
In reality, had Mr. Kassa opened a book at some point in his lifetime (not even a history book, just any book that mentions Hitler’s rise to power), he would know that while Hitler seized guns from his enemies, he was actually quite in favor of an armed populace. Politifact notes that, like his party’s modern-day American counterparts, Hitler was in favor of open carry, deregulation of firearm regulations, and allowing children to own guns:
The Nazis adopted a new gun law in 1938. According to an analysis by Bernard Harcourt, a professor at Columbia University School of Law, it loosened gun ownership rules in several ways.
It deregulated the buying and selling of rifles, shotguns and ammunition. It made handguns easier to own by allowing anyone with a hunting license to buy, sell or carry one at any time. (You didn’t need to be hunting.) It also extended the permit period from one year to three and gave local officials more discretion in letting people under 18 get a gun.
The regulations to implement this law, rather than the law itself, did impose new limits on one group: Jews.
Then, things got crazy (yes, then). Kassa decided to bring Agenda 21 into the mix:
The rich white elite Democrats wanted the American Indians’ ground, so the first thing they did was disarm them, the next thing they did was put them on a reservation (Agenda 21), and then they stole their ground. Go check out Agenda 21 for yourself.
Agenda 21 is a fictional New World Order plot to depopulate the earth and control everything that is mindlessly parroted by people who have trouble figuring out how to operate a doorknob. In reality, Mother Jones notes that Agenda 21 isn’t actually scary at all, despite the ominous-sounding name:
While the name might sound a bit ominous, Agenda 21 is a voluntary action plan that offers suggestions for sustainable ways local, state and national governments can combat poverty and pollution and conserve natural resources in the 21st century. (That’s where the ’21’ comes from. Get it?) 178 governments—including the U.S. led by then-President George H.W. Bush—voted to adopt the program which is, again, not legally binding in any way, at the 1992 U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro.
“These people are very evil and you bet they want the guns so bad they can’t stand it, as it’s not for your safety, but for theirs,” Kassa concludes. “God bless America and unite as the one world order will have Obama coming after you. Be prepared, stick together.”
A House Tea Party Republican declared that conservatives own Christianity during an attack against President Obama.
In his moral defense of granting asylum to thousands of Syrian refugees, President Obama cited the Bible in November to counter anti-refugee conservatives.
“Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger –- we were strangers once, too,” Obama said.
“My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too. And whether our forebears were strangers who crossed the Atlantic, or the Pacific, or the Rio Grande, we are here only because this country welcomed them in, and taught them that to be an American is about something more than what we look like, or what our last names are, or how we worship.”
Indeed, the Bible commands Christians to love foreigners and treat them with respect and compassion. Deuteronomy 10:19 states:
And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.
And Leviticus 19:34 states:
The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.
The verse President Obama referenced is Exodus 23:9, which states,
You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.
As we all know, Republicans are constantly claiming that America is a Christian nation and that we must adhere to Christian values. So if that is the case, you would think Republicans would jump to support President Obama and his effort to help refugees who are fleeing war and death in their homeland.
But they aren’t. In fact, they not only oppose President Obama, they are attacking him for using the Bible against them.
During an interview with American Family Radio host Sandy Rios on Monday, Virginia Rep. David Brat argued that President Obama can’t use the Bible to hit back at conservatives because he says the right-wing owns Christianity, and must indoctrinate people to make sure they are brainwashed to believe that conservatives have a monopoly on Christian values.
“Our side, the conservative side, needs to reeducate its people that we own the entire tradition. If you lose the moral argument, you lose the policy argument every time, so we need to reclaim the moral argument, where we’re so strong.”
He also claimed that President Obama is using the Bible to build federal power.
“He’s using the Christian tradition and trying to bring about compassion by bonking Republicans over the head with the Bible. It’s almost a comedy routine on what compassion and love is. He’s mocking his enemies in order to compel a larger federal state using the tradition of love.”
So David Brat believes that Republicans alone own Christianity and have the only right to use the Bible to push their political agenda. Of course, he is assuming that only Republicans are Christians, which is complete bullshit.
Brat and his fellow conservatives are just pissed that President Obama used the Bible to reveal them as complete hypocrites. If Republicans really gave a damn about what the Bible said, they’d be pushing for universal healthcare, a stronger food stamp program and would welcome refugees with open arms. But they don’t, thereby proving that they are nothing more than opportunistic cherry-pickers who abuse religion for their own gain.
The business network has become enemy number one for the Republican Party, but one of its star reporters is often credited with launching the Tea Party movement six years ago.
After Wednesday’s debacle of a debate, CNBC is now the most-hated cable network among conservatives. The fury has grown so intense that on Friday the Republican National Committee broke off its partnership with NBC News for an upcoming February debate hosted by the news titan.
Fun fact: Six years ago, CNBC started the Tea Party movement.
On February 24, 2009, while reporting for Squawk Box from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Rick Santelli (who was briefly featured during Wednesday’s debate) went on a dramatic rant against President Obama’s Homeowners Affordability and Stability Plan, a stimulus package aimed at helping homeowners in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure.
“The government is promoting bad behavior,” he said. “How about this, president and new administration, why don’t you put up a website to have people vote on the Internet as a referendum to see if we really want to subsidize the losers’ mortgages.”
Santelli drew rapturous applause from the floor traders—the “silent majority,” as he described them—when he added that the government should “reward people that can carry the water instead of drink the water.”
A true showman in his element, Santelli then turned around to face his audience. “This is America!” he shouted. “How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor’s mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can’t pay their bills?” The traders erupted in boos.
The moment read like something straight out of the many Tea Party rallies seen during the 2010 election season.
“President Obama, are you listening?” Santelli boomed. “We’re thinking of having a Chicago Tea Party in July,” he continued. “All you capitalists show up to Lake Michigan, I’m going to start organizing.”
Further cementing what would become the Tea Party’s dominant motif, Santelli added, “I’ll tell you what: If you read our Founding Fathers—people like Benjamin Franklin and Jefferson—what we’re doing in this country now is making them roll over in their graves.”
And so history was written. Santelli’s call to verbal arms was echoed by conservative commentators and leading activist groups like FreedomWorks, who made the video their rallying cry.
Organizers shifted into gear and within 10 days of Santelli’s theatrics, the first official Tea Party rallies were held in Washington, D.C., Chicago, and other cities. A year-and-a-half later, Tea Party candidates won 40 U.S. House elections, taking back power from the Democratic Party.
Support for the Tea Party has finally plummeted to the lowest levels ever. According to a new Gallup poll, the Tea Party’s favorability nationally has dropped nearly in half from a November 2010 high of 32 percent to a five year low of 17 percent. According to Gallup, the Tea Party had never dropped below 25 percent until this most recent poll.
Of course, it has been the Tea Party sympathizers in the House Freedom Caucus and Tea Party Caucus who have in a matter of weeks forced current House Speaker John Boehner into an early retirement, denied second-in-line Kevin McCarthy his opportunity to ascend and nearly browbeat Paul Ryan out of the job for fear of future retribution. The Tea Party’s take no prisoners approach in Washington D.C. has done little to bolster support across the nation, however.
In fact, 24 percent of Americans now say they are opponents of the Tea Party. Even among self-described conservative Republicans, support for the Tea Party has dropped from 63 percent in 2010 to 42 percent now. But the biggest drop off in support for the Tea Party comes from Independents who lean Republican, with a 29 percent decrease in support from 2010.
The Republican Party has become an insurgent outlier — ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
Despite overwhelming historical data showing asymmetrical polarization in Congress (more recent additions here), their argument did not convince the anecdote-obsessed Beltway pundit class, with its deep belief that “both sides do it,” no matter what “it” may be. It’s true there are “extremists on both sides,” but as this Wonk Blog post showed, the percentage of non-centrist Republicans skyrocketed from under 10 percent in the Ford years (less than Democrats) to almost 90 percent today, while the Democratic percentage has stayed basically flat [chart]. What’s more, in the last session (2013-2014), the data shows that 147 House Republicans — more than half the caucus — were more ideologically extreme than the most extreme Democrat in the House. There is simply no comparison between the two parties. Asymmetric polarization is not only real, it’s one of the most dominant facts of American politics today.
But it’s a fact that “balanced” journalism has to ignore. To admit that the political world isn’t balanced would shake their whole belief system to its core. And yet, the shaking seems to have begun. As dysfunction in the GOP has reached new heights, not just threatening America and the global economy, but the party itself (both in Congress and the presidential race), the power of that denial may have begun breaking down, as Republican politicians are now criticizing their own party for what it has become, with conservative pundits like David Brooks castigating the GOP for its “right-wing radicalism.”
So it was only natural for Bloomberg View to engage in an email Q&A with Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein, “Republicans Gone Wild,” bringing their perspective to bear on where things stand today.
Ornstein first pointed out that the current state of crisis — both in Congress and in the presidential primary — had predictable roots in past strategic moves, heedlessly initiated by party leaders who were now reaping the whirlwind. This basically reverses the order of causation proposed by critics, like Chris Cillizza, who argued that GOP congressmembers were simply following the spontaneous rightward movement of the folks back home:
The fact is that the “Young Guns” — Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan, as we wrote early on in the book — actively incited anger and raised expectations among populist Tea Party adherents when they went out in 2009-2010 and recruited candidates to run in the midterms. They told them to use the debt ceiling as an issue and to promise to bludgeon Obama with it to force him to his knees, to repeal Obamacare and cut government dramatically. They promised that if they took the majority they would immediately cut spending by $100 billion.
Of course, the American political system doesn’t work like that. Parliamentary systems do. But not presidential ones. For folks calling themselves “constitutional conservatives” this was a pretty fundamental moment of “Oops!” Continuing:
That led to the debt limit debacle in 2011, when they finally backed down at the brink — after Jason Chaffetz, whom we quote in the book, led the charge to take the country over. And the promise of $100 billion in spending cuts went unfulfilled. The combination of empty threats and unfulfilled promise, amplified by tribal media and social media, has created both a broad public anger at Republican establishment leaders among more radical Tea Party voters, and a seething anger among the 40 to 50 most radical House members at their own leaders for their fecklessness.
The wild promises that the “Young Guns” made played a key role (along with outside groups and money) in winning GOP House control in 2010, but they were alwaysutterly unrealistic — a minor detail that no one inside GOP leadership seemed to notice or care about at the time. One could argue that after 30 years of supply-side, trickle-down mumbo-jumbo they’d become completely adapted to living in fantasyland. How were they to know that this time they’d be getting their fair share of the resulting pain? (An early 2014 report concluded that “lurching from government breakdown to breakdown” had already significantly damaged the U.S. economy, resulting in an additional 750,000 unemployed.)
After that, Mann added:
Norm’s response underscores the reality of asymmetric polarization, which the mainstream media and most good government groups have avoided discussing — at great costs to the country. [Emphasis added.] As we wrote, Republicans have become more an insurgency than a major political party capable of governing. Their actions in Congress in recent weeks and on the presidential campaign trail underscore this reality.
But I would go even farther than Mann regarding the media. Their stubborn adherence to a false balance narrative has, ironically, become an integral part of the GOP’s relentless rightward push. By talking about “government dysfunction” instead of “Republican obstruction,” the media actively helps the most extreme anti-government Republicans thwart any efforts at competent governance and it helps promote their “government is horrible” worldview. It normalizes the abnormal, even the bizarre.
There was once a penalty for becoming too politically extreme: one’s actions would be characterized as unrealistic, destructive, heedless of past experience, etc. Sometimes this was justified, sometimes not (as with the Civil Rights movement). But right or wrong, this media practice inhibited radical movements in either direction. For quite some time now, however, conservative Republicans have realized that by moving right and attacking the media for any criticism, they can turn the media into a tacit ally, forcing them to treat preposterous claims as serious ideas, or even proven facts. Thus, when they were planning to force a government shutdown, a key part of their strategy was spinning the media with a preposterous argument that it was the Democrats who were shutting down the government, even though, as the New York Times reported, the shutdown plan traced back to a meeting early in President Obama’s second term, led by former Attorney General Edwin R. Meese.
[P]erhaps the single greatest asset the GOP has on its side is the so-called “liberal media,” with its ideological bias toward “balance” that prevents it from honestly reporting that the shutdown is a entirely Republican creation — which would dramatically intensify the pressure on Republicans to fold.
Far from producing accurate, objective reporting, the media’s adherence to “balanced” reporting blotted out almost all relevant history. The nine reasons I cited were:
1. The longstanding GOP fixation on shutting down the government.
2. The GOP’s creation of the shutdown crisis by blocking the budget reconciliation process.
3. The emergence and evolution of the incoherent Ted Cruz/Tea Party plan to force a shutdown over “Obamacare.”
4. The record of prominent Republican politicians and others who repeatedly warned against forcing a government shutdown — including many who are now trying to blame the Democrats.
5. The contrary historical record of some Republicans downplaying the severity of the shutdown.
6. The record of drastic Democratic budget concessions embodied in the “clean CR” [which Republicans rejected].
7. The polling evidence that only GOP base voters are opposed to political compromise — and are indifferent to crisis.
8. Evidence that GOP base intransigence drives policy.
9. The framework of American legislative history.
This was just one example, but the point is true in general: “Balance” does not ensure a clearer, more honest, more complete, more objective picture of the relevant facts — especially in current circumstances.
The GOP’s strategic logic is simple and straightforward: If the media is going to split the difference between what Democrats and Republicans say, then if Republicans simply double their demands, suddenly the media, embracing the “sensible center,” will now articulate the old GOP position as the “sensible center,” the “common sense” place to be. It will also adjust its reporting of “facts” accordingly, screening out all the facts that would once have made the Democratic position seem reasonable or plausible, and bringing in new “facts” — such as the GOP canard that it was really the Democrats who wanted to shut the government down. What’s more, once the media plays along, it’s a trick that can be used over and over again. One can keep moving farther and farther right indefinitely, pulling the “objective” media along for the ride, every step of the way. (Conservatives even developed an operational model to describe the process, known as the “Overton Window,” explained by a conservative activist here.)
The basis for all this is a cultural illusion that the “nonpartisan” media is somehow objective, philosophically in tune with science. But historically, this is far from true. Up until the late 19th century, American journalism was quite partisan, serving substantial “niche” audiences, sustained by subscriptions. When advertising exploded as a revenue source in the early 20th century, a new journalistic model emerged, trying to appeal across parties, while taking care not to anger large advertisers. The broader story is well told by Paul Starr in “The Creation of the Media,” while Jeremy Iggers incorporates this history into his account of how journalism ethics confuses the purposes of journalism in “Good News, Bad News: Journalism Ethics and the Public Interest.”
One of the most persistent critics of the “balanced journalism” that results is James Fallows of the Atlantic magazine, in his ongoing “false equivalence” blog posts, begun in 2012. One such post, quoting from correspondent Shreeharsh Kelkar at MIT, references Starr’s work, along with the concept of “boundary work,” which Kelkar describes as “a kind of rhetorical work that is performed in public argument: something is asserted to be science by stressing what it is not.” He goes on to say:
I think this kind of boundary work exists in journalism too… it’s what you call false equivalence (and Yglesias calls bipartisan think). Here the newspaper is seen as above politics, which is what grubby politicians do.
Such is the basis for the media’s claims of “objectivity.” Starr’s history explains the forces leading to why this happened. And Kelkar goes on to note that these forces are changing once again, corresponding with another change in outlook:
Interestingly enough, we’re now back in more partisan times, thanks to the Web. And it’s interesting to me that you, Matt and others who call the editorials on their false equivalence operate in a completely different new media ecosystem.
The one thing missing from this account is that partisan, ideological and other niche journalism (black newspapers, for example) never went away, although they were pushed toward the margins. But they continued to play important cultural and political roles, especially for movements locked out of power, struggling to find their way in. In this very real historical sense, the blogosphere’s origins were not just Usenet, email lists and the like, they were also the underground press tracing back toIF Stone’s Weekly and George Seldes’ In Fact; the black press, both commercial and movement-based; political journals of the left and right; and so on. These underappreciated traditions provide largely untapped examples of how to do quality political journalism outside of the artificial construct in which false balance is rooted. They point the way forward for us, beyond our current state of asymmetrical dysfunction.
Chaos, chaos, and chaos. Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s withdrawal from the speaker’s racehas caused disarray—that is, greater disarray—within the House GOP conference. Hours after McCarthy’s announcement, there was no word of what comes next. Who might jump in? Would a caretaker candidate emerge? How long could Speaker John Boehner stay in the job? And, it seemed, the House tea partiers who had somewhat caused this crisis—they had succeeded in driving Boehner from the job and had deemed McCarthy insufficiently conservative—were yearning for more chaos. The House Freedom Caucus, the tea party GOPers, put out this statement:
Note that last sentence: “The next Speaker needs to yield back power to the membership for the sake of both the institution and the country.” In other words, we don’t want a speaker who is going to try to govern in a time of divided government; we don’t want a speaker who will endeavor to forge a compromise on behalf of the GOP conference and make the system work; and, as a government shutdown looms and a possible debt ceiling crisis approaches, we want a speaker who will step to the side and let the chaos reign. This is the congressional equivalent of “burn, baby, burn.”
House Speaker John Boehner’s decision to resign will likely be greeted with applause by liberals and conservatives alike, as he presided over one of the most dysfunctional and least productive Congresses in the history of the country. Conservatives will cheer that the weak leader has been replaced by a stronger conservative, and liberals will celebrate the departure of one of Barack Obama’s most prominent Congressional adversaries.
Yet, for liberals, and for the American people in general, Boehner’s exit from leadership may not be cause for celebration. Boehner, for all his faults, was at least a feeble bridge between tea party nihilism and the frayed ends of sanity. His departure blows up that bridge. Without a doubt, the U.S. House was dysfunctional with Boehner at the helm. However, with Boehner out, that dysfunction is almost certain to get worse.
The GOP House without Boehner as their leader will be even more dogmatic, resistant and nihilistic than the current House, and that is not an easy bar to clear. Worse yet, whoever does take the reigns will always be looking over his right shoulder, making sure he is placating the right-wing extremists so they don’t topple him in a political coup for being insufficiently conservative.
In many ways John Boehner has only himself to blame. As House Speaker he frequently allowed reckless reactionaries to hijack the House agenda and to turn the lower chamber of Congress into a perpetual circus. Boehner’s House spent much of its time running kangaroo courts to investigate phony scandals, and passing dozens of pointless resolutions to defund Obamacare.
The toothless House Speaker was never very successful at controlling the radicals in his party, who incessantly fought to undermine the last vestiges of functioning government. Boehner’s resignation will only fuel the growing nihilism of the Republican Party’s right-wing. With the lunatic fringe taking the wheel of governance, and John Boehner no longer on the GOP side of the aisle to pump the brakes, the tea party crazies are going to move full speed ahead with their plan to dismantle functioning government. Buckle up America. We’re in for a rough ride.
Alan Caruba, contributing writer for the fringe right-wing Tea Party News Network, has some pretty impressive credentials. Founder of “The Center for Anxiety,” a conservative propaganda mill, Alan has spent his entire life on the quest for knowledge.
Not the kind of knowledge a contemporary student or scholar craves, mind you; Alan’s quest is for knowledge of how to be as ignorant as humanly possible.
At that he is a complete success. Caruba is a notorious science denier; for years he’s claimed that universities keep the myth alive for the benefit of…who knows who. He’s also a proponent of all things biblical, and he hates the LGBT community with a passion because he’s so much better than them.
The list goes on, straight down the lines of the fringe right. Alan Caruba is a holier than thou myth junkie whose views are appreciated by knuckle-dragging nitwits across America.
It’s no wonder he writes for the number one publication of the Tea Party.
His latest article puts all of his other exploits to shame. Under the guise of someone hopeful that the Civil Rights Movement would solve the issue of race-relations in the 60’s, Caruba took to his blog to express just what it’s like to be black in the most condescending way possible:
“Middle and upper class blacks share the outlook of their white counterparts. They look at the inner cities and they understand that decades of liberal governance has driven out businesses large and small, along with anyone who could afford to leave. Yes, there was “white flight”, but they were joined by blacks who saw there was no future to be had there for their children. The rest are trapped.”
In an attempt to equate his privileged life with that of the black community, Caruba could only express what he certainly believes to be the only blacks he can identify with. Those who could “afford to leave” the inner cities.
He doesn’t for a minute consider that black people might consider their neighborhoods home, that they might have families and friends there, and that they may opt to try to make their neighborhoods better rather than abandon them.
Caruba further insults an entire race when he decides to delve into Baltimore’s problems. Here he references the Wall Street Journal and adds his little bit of ignorance:
“Asked to choose between two possible explanations for recent events, 60% of blacks said they reflected ‘long-standing frustrations about police mistreatment of African-Americans.’ Some 27% of black respondents said they thought the disturbances were caused by people as an excuse ‘to engage in looting and violence.’ I favor the latter explanation because I doubt that our nation’s police forces engage in deliberate harassment and mistreatment of blacks.”
He doubts that our nation’s police…forces…yeah… Apparently he lives under a rock. The fact that he who relates so well to middle and upper class people of color can even say such a thing makes me think he has no idea what black people think whatsoever. And for a minute there, it looked like he really had his finger on the pulse of the African-American community.
Of course you can’t talk about black people without mentioning the president. Caruba calls him “the most racially divisive leader in American History.” I don’t know if Alan has noticed or not, but our country being racially divided over the president isn’t because he panders to blacks, it’s because he IS black.
Here’s his thoughts on the president:
“Referring to the Baltimore riot, he said that ‘we as a nation have to do some soul-searching’ when as William McGurn of The Wall Street Journal noted the trillions spent on liberal programs, personified by LBJ’s ‘War on Poverty’, have not succeeded in reducing poverty and have contributed to creating whole populations that live off of government handouts of one sort or another.”
And there it is. Liberals are to blame for turning black people into social-program dependent burdens on the American taxpayer. Isn’t that a fine how-do-you-do.
The reality is that the socio-economic isolation of blacks after the Civil War continues to this day. Inner cities see it to a much greater extent. If Caruba truly believes the problem can be solved by black people simply rising up and getting high-paying jobs, moving out of the neighborhoods he sees as substandard and acting more like white people, Alan Caruba may possibly be the dumbest person alive.
That statement definitely holds true of someone who would be so bold as to write this piece of garbage article and publish it with this for a featured image:
Is it true? Absolutely not. Does it fit into the framework of an elitist jackwagon who has probably never met a black person in real life with the exception of that time he shook hands with Ben Carson at a Teabagger “freedom summit?” Absolutely.
One thing is for certain: As the Tea Party dwindles in size and influence, we can only hope a-holes like Alan Caruba fade into the darkness with it.
Recently, Florida’s environmental experts came up with a plan to help restore some of the damage done to the state’s Everglades. The unique and gorgeous habitat has faced a series of setbacks in recent years with commercial development, water usage abuse, and pollution. To help fight this, the South Florida Water Management District has proposed buying up thousands of acres of land to be used as treatment facilities and water storage, where the water will eventually be fed into the Everglades.
For scientists and people who care about the unique wildlife that thrives in Florida’s Everglades, this is great. Unfortunately, the plan does have enemies. The most vocal is U.S. Sugar, which currently owns the land and wants to keep using it for industrial purposes. They have allied themselves with – who else? – the Florida Tea Party chapter, which looks at any government encroachment on business as an act of tyranny.
Everglades restoration has widespread public support though, so to counter that the Tea Party has decided to go with a “fake it until you make it” approach.
Unable to drum up enough popular support for the state to continue allowing the destruction of priceless areas of the Everglades for the sake of profits for a single company (I wonder why?), Florida’s Tea Party chapter has hired actors to “play” the imaginary protesters instead. Think of it as a way for people with money to pretend they’re being democratic instead of having to, you know, be democratic.
According to the Palm Beach Post, a rally of dozens of people held outside the South Florida Water Management District recently consisted almost entirely of paid actors. For $75, the actors held signs made for them by the Tea Party (in showbiz these are what’s known as “props”) and shouted slogans (“lines”) written for them by the Tea Party. According to the Palm Beach Post the actors “[knew] little about the cause they have been hired to oppose.”
From screenshots taken on social media, CL Tampa noted that the Tea Party group didn’t even try to hide that this is what was happening.
No “club” outfits but other than that, head on over to the protest and get 75 bucks for this thing – no need to worry yourself with what it’s about!
Despite the paid actors, the rally appeared to have been an awkward mess. In a brief video posted to the Tea Party Miami YouTube channel, the “protesters” are seen with blank expressions while holding signs and symbolically lighting “two billion dollars” on fire in a grill. Someone is wearing what appears to be a Monopoly Guy outfit for some reason.
As for the actors, it’s hard to blame them for taking the money for the gig. It’s hard out there for a struggling actor and $75 for two hours of holding a sign is pretty good. It would be interesting to learn about their experiences. If you are or know someone who participated in the protest, we’d love to hear from you to get a personal view of the whole thing. You can find my Twitter handle below.
As for the Tea Party, what can we say? For a group that was built by the rich to appear like it was a grassroots movement, this kind of thing must seem only natural. Paying people to look like they support you is exactly the kind of thing we have come to expect. Only this time absolutely nobody seems like they’re buying it.
“You regularly show contempt for the people who make all your financial success possible,” the group said in a letter to site owners Todd Cefaratti and Kellen Guida. “The staff who work around the clock to produce timely and breaking content is regularly reminded that ‘writers are cheap.’ The audience is regarded as unsophisticated simpletons.”
The letter was signed by TPNN’s social media director Jennifer Burke and two contributors, Matthew Burke and Greg Campbell. They were joined by Kris Hall and Dustin Stockton, who worked for Cefaratti’s other website, TheTeaParty.Net.
According to the Daily Beast, TheTeaParty.net received more than $6 million in donations during the last election cycle. But at the same time, TPNN’s website has drawn criticism from other conservatives for including non-political content like video footage of street altercations.
“It was supposed to be an educational tool for people who were upset with what is going on in the world,” said conservative activist Samuel J. “Joe The Plumber” Wurzelbacher. “But then they figured out, ‘Hell, we can make more money off of this.’ I stopped going to the site. It stopped being informative.”
TPNN news director and Fox News contributor Scottie Hughes told the Beast that the videos helped the site retain readership.
“Nobody talks politics 24/7. People talk sports. People talk dog shows,” she said. “We are like other news outlets trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. We are trying to make you a well-rounded person, so you can have stuff to talk about at the water cooler, so you aren’t just seen as the crazy Tea Party person who has been demonized for so long.”
But the group accused TPNN management in its resignation letter of steering money raised “using non-profit dollars and resources” into a for-profit company without any transparency, while posting “increasingly vile and unacceptable” content.
“The activism that built all the infrastructure is considered a ‘pain in the ass’ not as an opportunity to save the country,” the letter stated. “As a group we can no longer tolerate being associated with these despicable practices.”